Fashion Revolution week finished yesterday. It’s call to arms is the question ‘Who made my clothes?’ Here’s how you get involved, do this yourself.
On June 26th, there will be another way to find out ‘Who made my clothes?’: that’s when a free 3 week online course led by our CEO Ian begins. Here’s the trailer. You can sign up here.
It’s Fashion Revolution Week this week. To mark this, we’re showcasing our favourite examples of cultural activism which have supported its #whomademyclothes call to action. On Monday, we showcased the Guerrilla Projections of documentary photographer Ismael Ferdous. On Tuesday, we showcased the gentle Shop-dropping activism of the Craftivist Collective. And yesterday we showcased the power of Disobedient Objects like Fashion Revolution Germany & BDDO’s €2 T-shirt vending machine.
Today’s post focuses on a strategic impact documentary called the True Cost. This aims to unravel fast fashion’s grim and gritty supply chains in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse. It juxtaposes scenes of fashion models strutting catwalks, YouTube shopping hauls, footage of Black Friday shopping chaos, TV news footage of garment workers sewing clothes in cramped factory spaces, talking head interviews with factory workers and owners, farmers, former corporate executives, academic experts, famous activists and ethical fashion royalty, brands working ethically, key people from NGOs like War on Want, and champions of free market economics.
What’s distinctive about the True Cost and the impacts that it has had is that it was crowd-funded, released via iTunes and Netflix, and tries to channel its audiences’ concerns to ‘do something’ through public screenings with panel discussions, its website and associated social media. This film enrolled its audiences from its crowd-funding forwards. It was a conversation, a collaborative ‘do something’, from the beginning. Despite its lack of mainstream funding or cinema listing, the making, reception and impacts of this film in relation to the Fashion Revolution have been nothing short of stunning. We’re posting this today because CEO Ian is on a True Cost panel in Portsmouth tonight. It’s a textbook example of the emerging genre of strategic impact documentary.
Judith Hefland & Anna Lee (2012) Put movies in the hands of movements. in Andrew Boyd (comp.) Beautiful trouble: a toolbox for revolution. New York: O/R, 164-5
Kate Nash & John Corner (2016) Strategic impact documentary: contexts or production and social intervention. European Journal of Communication 31(3) 227-242
It’s Fashion Revolution week this week. Today is the fourth anniversary of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in Savar, Bangladesh. We’ve been working closely with Fashion Revolution almost from the start, our CEO Ian being a member of its Global Coordination Team. followthethings.com brings to Fashion Revolution a keen interest in cultural activism, its creation, discussion and impacts, This week we will be sharing each day a form of cultural activism that has made significant contributions to the movement.
Today’s post shows how photographs from the Rana Plaza site in the hours and days after the collapse were used to engage consumers and shame brands and retailers who refused to acknowledge that their clothes were being made there at the time. In this 2014 TED talk, Bangladeshi documentary photographer Ismael Ferdous talks about those he took on the day and what he did with them when he took them to New York. Guerrilla Projection is the activist tactic. This is moving, inspiring, troubling work.
Samantha Corbin & Mark Read (2012) Tactic: Guerilla Projection. in Andrew Boyd (comp.) Beutiful trouble: a toolbox for revolution. New York: O/R, 52-53
Hannah Harris Green (2014) Photographer Ismail Ferdous On Documenting the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse. The Aerogram 15 May
It’s Fashion Revolution Week this week. Last year’s headline, viral #whomademyclothes smash came from Germany. A vending machine apparently dispensing t-shirts for only 2 Euros in a Berlin square. If you put your money in, you had to watch a video showing the sweatshop conditions in which they were made. Twenty seconds in, you were presented with an option to buy the t-shirt or donate your 2 Euros. You were also filmed. With your permission, your reactions were included in a short film that was posted on YouTube on 23 April 2015. To date, over 7 million people will have seen your reactions, the expressions on your face, and joined the often heated, occasionally funny and carefully reasoned conversation in the comments below, and elsewhere online.
At followthethings.com, we turn the thousands of comments all over the internet into a digested read, a single conversation. Reading this you might get a sense of how successful this experiment was, and what made the video go viral. You might also think what you might have added to the conversation. What is the experiment showing? What’s it not showing? See what you think. Here.
Highlights from the conversation: Continue reading
We’re involved in running a session at the Royal Geographical Society (Institute of British Geography) annual conference this summer whose aim is to bring academic fashion experts into dialogue with the Fashion Revolution movement. We’re asking how fashion research can contribute to what is becoming a worldwide movement for a more ethical / sustainable fashion industry in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013. We’re looking for academic research from any discipline that can contribute to Fashion Revolution’s five year planning. Here’s what we’re doing. Please get in touch with Ian, Lousie and/or Alex to discuss any ideas. The deadline for abstracts is Friday 12th February.
– Call for papers –
Scholar activism and the Fashion Revolution: ‘who made my clothes?’
The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex on April 24th 2013, which crushed to death over 1,000 people making clothes for Western brands, was a final straw, a call to arms, for significant change in the fashion industry. Since then, tens of thousands of people have taken to social media, to the streets, to their schools and halls of government to uncover the lives hidden in the clothes we wear. Businesses, consumers, governments, academics, NGOS and others working towards a safer, cleaner and more just future for the fashion industry have been galvanised.
It’s happening right now.
At least one class of Year 8 students at an Exeter high school are doing some Nike homework this weekend.
Natalie Batten, one of the newly qualified Geography teachers who has been using followthethings.com with her students as part of our #followtheteachers project, has already blogged about an assignment like this. Click this button to read about her experience and advice.
If you’re interested in what it life and work can be like for the people who make sports clothing, we have some other recommendations that aren’t on our sire. The first film is on Nike and could be a vivid and useful source. But other students in other schools may have been given Adidas to research. We have a couple of films for you too, if that’s what you’ve been asked to research. And, at the end, we bring things right up to date: with a way to compare these two companies / brands.
Nike: behind the Swoosh
A student at the US’s largest Catholic University feels disgusted with what he reads about Nike and ‘sweatshops’ and, when he refuses to wear his University’s Nike soccer kit, he’s fired. So he sets off to Indonesia with a friend to find out if the factory and living conditions he’s read about are as he imagines. People at University keep telling him that things are fine. What he sees, what he does, and the people he meets in Indonesia have a powerful effect on them and what they decide to do next.
If you’re studying Geography and your homework is about Adidas, you should find this next film interesting. It’s a 2001 episode of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product TV series that involves a class of Geography students in London finding out – with the comedian/activist’s help – about the company’s labour practices in a unique, face-to-face way, in their classroom. Fast forward to 6 minutes 13 seconds. That’s where it starts.
Not OK here, not OK anywhere
This short video was produced by the charity War on Want as part of its campaign to highlight the abuse of workers making Adidas sportswear for fans and athletes attending the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It was part of a wider campaign whose webpages are listed here.
Commitments to workers: 2013 update
If you have been studying the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in April this year, you may find it interesting to see which company has and which has not signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. There’s a story about one signing and the other not signing in this newspaper story. But check the latest list that’s published here. The situation may possibly change…
Date: 11 November 2013, 4-6pm
Venue: University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Streatham Court, Lecture Room C.